Last weekend my 11-month-old niece gave me an illustration on perseverance. Let’s take a look. (It plays the right way but for some reason the still image is sideways.)
The big kids were playing a game in the den but my niece wanted to join them so she walked over to meet them. My youngest thought it would be fun to show my niece her milk cup and see what my niece would do to try to get it. As you can see in the video, she tried to reach through the glass. This went on much longer than the video shows, which is how it grabbed my attention. I started filming about two minutes into this game. It amazed me how much determination she had to get what she desired: the milk cup.
Supporting Our Loved One’s Quest to Achieve their Dreams
As I watched my niece, I thought of how we are born with such incredible qualities that are seemingly eliminated or put to the side as we grow older. From the moment we take our first breath, we have a reliance on others while also being determined to figure things out where we are. It reminds us of our need for community and asking for help while also showing me how important it is to know how to do things yourself. We figure out how to cry when we need things, how to find our thumb, how to crawl, how to walk. Each of these things requires a continual practice of finding our voice and persevering as we try to figure out this life and how to navigate it.
In this video, we all encouraged my niece as she wanted to get the milk. What I couldn’t help but question is, “Would we encourage her so much if she was 12 and telling us she wanted to be a football player or 20 and wanted to pursue her dreams of being an artist?” It’s a real question for so many families. Do we encourage our kids and loved one throughout their life or only when they are young and until we think they are doing something that doesn’t align with our theology or ideas about what a “real job” is or what “girls should do” or “boys should do”. Do we support our kids when their desires differ from what we want for their life?
I know as a parent that we want the best for our kids. I’d love to see my oldest become an award-winning, best-selling Psychologist who changes the way kids with eating disorders and from troubled and broken families see the world and respond to it. She’d be amazing at it. But she loves delivering for a local pizza company instead. It gives her the independence she desires while allowing her to gain a steady income. I have to support her or else she will fail the same feelings I felt growing up and I will NOT do that to her.
Friends, there is little in this world worse than feeling like what you do is never enough to receive love from those around you. Don’t be the source of that pain for those you love. When your niece wants to play football, help her with her passes and encourage her to be the best she can be. When your nephew wants to take ballet lessons, applaud him when he shows you how he can do a split or walk on his toes. Encourage your son as he pursues his dreams of writing and your daughter as she takes pictures of EVERYTHING in sight. Show them support and love, even if it hurts and goes against what you desire for them. Do you know how many YouTubers out there have parents who didn’t support them on their quest to make millions? Now their parents probably wish they did!
Going After Our Own Dreams
I also thought of how my niece didn’t need the cheering. She didn’t find a new way to get the cup because of our cheering. She did it because she wanted the cup! She was going to do that whether we desired for her to get it or wanted her to walk away. She wanted the cup and was going to get it. I started to wonder, “Do I have her perseverance or do I stop short?”
Ask yourself that same question. Being a Christian and Bible lover, I couldn’t help but think of the story of the friends who lowered their paralytic friend through a roof when they brought him to Jesus and they couldn’t get through the door (Matthew (9:1–8), Mark (2:1–12), and Luke (5:17–26)). Steven Furtick once preached a sermon about it entitled, “There’s Another Door” that really brings the story to life. My niece couldn’t get through the window so she went around it. Simple.
So why do we make it so complicated? I understand as adults we have bills to pay and families to support, people who rely on us to be responsible. But does that mean we have to give up our dreams? Does it mean we have to settle for something “less than” just so we can do those things?
I loved that my niece had a goal and worked until she attained it. She didn’t consider all the reasons why she wouldn’t get the milk. When she first walked up to the window, the other door was closed so it was a sea of windows. She knocked and the door was opened. Shouldn’t we all learn from her and go after our goals and dreams with complete determination and zeal?
What have you learned from the toddlers and children in your life? Share your thoughts below.